What Our Students Are Saying
In California the population is 48% Caucasian, yet the mental health profession is 78% Caucasian. Our program seeks to respond to this reality in the following two ways:
- First, we recruit, educate, and support graduate students who represent the communities of California. This requires a commitment to develop and offer courses and clinical experiences that reflect the cultures and communities of the students and the population of the state of California.
- Second, we seek to equip all therapists who graduate from the CMH program with enhanced awareness of the clinical needs of diverse populations and the ability to provide services that are culturally and linguistically effective.
CIIS encourages other representation of diversity, including students from the LGBTQI community, as well as diversity in age range.
We seek (and attract) creative, motivated, mature students who have already demonstrated a strong interest in community mental health or community service. Integrity, introspection, and dedication are all essential attributes.
Our first graduating cohort includes the following alumni:
Jorge A. Ramirez
"The need for Spanish-speaking bicultural therapists and mental health resources in the Bay Area inspired me to become a clinician through the CMH program. The program attracted me because of their commitment to social justice and diversity.
CMH is preparing me to work with immigrant families and children from diverse backgrounds. Most importantly, the professors enrich me with knowledge and wisdom to guide the next generation of clinicians."
"For the past decade, I have been working in a management role in both suicide prevention and peer support services. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to do direct service work such as facilitating a suicide attempt survivor peer support group, and also to have helped create and manage large mental health service projects, such as the San Francisco Peer-Run Warm Line.
As a person with lived experience of mental health challenges, and as a consumer of community mental health services myself, I have a deep understanding of what clinical work looks like from the client's perspective. This understanding informs all aspects of my educational and professional life. The CMH program, with its focus on diversity and social justice, has been a perfect fit for me and for how I would like to work. I am excited to take what I am learning in this program on to the next phase of my journey."
"Before coming to CIIS, I spent 10 years in the tech industry doing marketing and product development. Currently I'm a peer counselor, supporting survivors of sexual violence and exploitation at BAWAR (Bay Area Women Against Rape). I decided to join the Community Mental Health program because the students were diverse, and I felt that I could learn from my cohort's lived experience. After graduation, I hope to work in the community mental health system, providing therapy and advocating for integrative and comprehensive approaches to care. I'm committed to improving access to mental health care for traditionally underserved communities and moving theories and practices forward with an anti-oppressive, culturally responsive, and strengths-based critique."